I. A STARTLED QUEEN. (Vers. 12, 13.)
1. An unusual sound. Secretly as the coronation of Joash had been conducted, Athaliah's quick ear caught the noise of trampling feet, clapping hands, and shouting voices that issued from the temple on the other side of the Tyropoean valley. Guilty consciences, of sovereigns, as of common sinners, are prone to be startled by strange sounds (Job 18:11, 12); cf. 'Macbeth' (act 2. sc. 2), "I have done the deed: didst thou not hear a noise?"
2. An unexpected sight. Mustering her guards, Athahah proceeded from her palace across the bridge that spanned the valley, and entered the temple court, when a most unwelcome spectacle met her gaze-a boy standing on a raised platform in front of the inner court, probably the brazen scaffold of Solomon (2 Chronicles 6:13), his head encircled with a diadem, his hand grasping a roll of parchment as if it were a sceptre; beside him Jehoiada the priest, the princes of the people, and the Levitical trumpeters; around him all the people of the land, rejoicing and singing.
3. An unrestrained cry. Whether or not Athaliah recognized in Joash one of Ahaziah's sons, whom she fancied she had murdered six years before, she had no difficulty in comprehending the situation. A usurper herself, she perfectly understood the scene she beheld to mean revolution. Rending her garments in horror at the spectacle (2 Kings 6:30; Ezra 9:3), and perhaps in involuntary acknowledgment that the hour of her overthrow had struck (1 Samuel 15:27, 28; 1 Kings 11:30), she likewise rent the air with a shriek of "Treason! treason!" (cf. 2 Kings 9:23).
II. AN AVENGING PRIEST. (Vers. 14, 15.)
1. A charge to the captains.
(1) Concerning the queen. To arrest her, to lead her beyond the precincts of the temple, to put her to death. Sudden and peremptory, this order was absolutely necessary. Divine justice and public safety alike demanded Athaliah's blood. A murderess herself (2 Chronicles 22:10), her life was forfeit to the law (Genesis 9:6). An idolatress of the rankest type, she had incurred the sentence, "I will cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you" (Leviticus 26:30). A conspiratress, so long as she was spared the life of Joash was not secure.
(2) Concerning her adherents. That they also should be put to the sword. To follow Athaliah, defend her person or champion her cause, was to be guilty of leze majesty against Joash, and indeed against Jehovah, whose vicegerent Joash was.
2. Its execution by the captains.
(1) They hurried the unhappy queen beyond the precincts of the temple, that the holy place might not be polluted with human blood.
(2) They conducted her forth to the vicinity of the king's stables, the people opening their ranks and making way for her to pass.
(3) They slew her there, within sight of the palace she had usurped and of the temple she had desecrated. As by violence she had climbed into the throne, by violence she was hurled from it. As she had lived so doubtless she died, in unbelief and sin - a victim at once of popular fury and Divine retribution (Proverbs 11:31). Learn:
1. That the way of transgressors is hard.
2. That the wages of sin is death.
3. That they who take the sword shall perish with the sword.
4. That verily there is a God who judgeth in the earth.
5. That with what measure one metes it shall be measured to him again. - W.
For his mother was his counsellor to do wickedly.
Great Thoughts.Mothers, ye are the sculptors of the souls of the coming men; queens of the cradle, humble or high, ye are the queens of the future. In your hands lie the destinies of men. I am not speaking poetry, but plain fact, which history proves. Nero's mother was a murderess; Nero was a murderer, on a gigantic scale. Byron's mother was proud, ill-tempered, and violent; Byron was proud, ill-tempered, and violent. Washington's mother was noble and pure; Washington was noble and pure. Scott's mother loved poetry and painting; you know what Walter Scott was. Carlyle's mother was stern, and full of reverence; Carlyle very much so. Wesley's mother was a God-like woman; Wesley was a God-like man. The prison chaplain will tell you that the last thing forgotten, in all the recklessness of dissolute profligacy, is the prayer or hymn taught by a mother's lips, or uttered at a father's knee. Yes, when all other roads are closed, there is one road open to the heart of the desperate man — the memory of his mother.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
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